The communication system which keeps the president in touch with the nuclear triad during a crisis will now be the responsibility of the head of U.S. Strategic Command.
The change came about from concerns that the nuclear command, control and communications systems, or NC3, lacked a clear chain of command under the current structure. The system is comprised of satellites, radars and fixed or mobile command posts.
“The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has appointed the commander of U.S. Strategic Command to be the NC3 enterprise lead, with increased responsibilities for operations, requirements, and systems engineering and integration,” a U.S. STRATCOM spokeswoman told SpaceNews.
The Pentagon’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review found the NC3 system “subject to challenges from both aging system components and new, growing 21st century threats” such as cyber warfare. The report also warned that “Russian nuclear or non-nuclear strategic attacks could now include attacks against U.S. NC3."
“The Secretary [of Defense] has told me multiple times," Gen. John Hyten, the head of U.S. Strategic Command, said in a recent speech at the nuclear submarine base in King’s Bay, Georgia. "Besides your day-to-day operational responsibilities ... your next highest priority is to make sure we get nuclear command and control right.”